Mason City Airport Manager Offers Clarity on Loss of Airline

March 14, 2022

Mar. 11—On Thursday, SkyWest announced via press release that it would be discontinuing service at 29 airports across the United States, one of which is Mason City.

SkyWest cited "an ongoing pilot staffing imbalance across the aviation industry," as the reason for the discontinuation of service.

"This is a situation unfolding across the aviation industry," David Sims, Mason City Airport Manager, said. "This is not an issue specific to Mason City or to SkyWest."

SkyWest is required to give 90 days notice of discontinuation, so service will continue uninterrupted for the time being.

Sims is already at work looking to replace SkyWest's service out of Mason City, but he said it would be unlikely for a replacement airline to be in place in before the 90 days is up.

However, Sims said there is a chance the US Department of Transportation will require SkyWest to continue to serving Mason City until a replacement airline is chosen, to ensure a smooth transition.

"This is the beginning of a process to find a replacement carrier, it will take several months," Sims said. "Customers should not be concerned about their travel, SkyWest will be here for at least the next 90 days if not longer."

This news comes at an awkward time for the Mason City Municipal Airport, which is currently reviewing the possibility of building a brand new airport terminal building, estimated to cost more than $13 million.

Sims said that the news of SkyWest's departure from the airport won't shelve the terminal project, as much of the work needed is required for the airport to maintain any operations. That being said, Sims admitted the news may require the airport commission to take a fresh look at the project and potentially re-evaluate.

"That project we will be looking at a little closer," Sims said. "But the need for that project is still there... no decision has been made yet but we are certainly looking at it."

Specifically, Sims said that the commission will have to take a closer look at the design to ensure it "fits our future needs."

Construction of the new terminal is slated to start this year, with a requirement to be complete by May of 2024 for the $12 million in federal funding to be used.

SkyWest started to serving Mason City on a three-year Essential Air Service Contract on March 1, 2021.

Fort Dodge and Sioux City were the other Iowa destinations that will be cut from SkyWest's service in 90 days.

SkyWest offered daily service to and from Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Mason City.

Zachary Dupont covers local government and business development for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at 641-421-0533 or [email protected]. Follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZachNDupont

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